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First Sea Lord Admiral Sir Mark Stanhope said ministers would have to "reprioritise" - making cuts in firepower elsewhere - if the Nato-led campaign lasts beyond the UK's existing six-month commitment. However, the head of the Armed Forces responded to the comments by insisting Britain could sustain the military operation "for as long as we choose".
"We are perhaps a few weeks from 'culmination' (military exhaustion)," a senior official in a Nato member state told Sky News. Small wonder that the US secretary of defence, Robert Gates, called on Spain, Holland and Turkey to join strike missions. He also asked Germany and Poland, so far sitting on the sidelines, to help out, too. The war in Libya cost the US $664m up to the end of May. By the end of the year this could rise to a billion dollars. The UK is spending £6m a week.